Review by David Walters
It takes courage to bear your soul, to stand up on a stage and say, “This is who I am,” and be open to what all the rehearsal, practice (both out loud and in your head), and training has brought you to. Now you’re standing in front of your audience, and everything is asked of you, holding nothing back. This is requested of all artists, to share themselves with their audience. It separates them and makes what they do all the more magical, unique, and superhuman. Not everyone can do it with absolute abandon, completely letting down all the blocks and hindrances that life forces us to erect to survive the onslaught of living with the joy, pain, and sorrow of our days spent on this earth.
Elisa Galindez, in her return engagement to 54 Below, bills herself as a proud Bronx Nuyorican and shares the life she’s lived that has made her who she is. Who she is, is in large part a tribute to her grandmother, and “Everything I Know” is a celebration of their relationship. Her grandmother was her touchstone to the world and the helium that gave her lift. When she passed in 2021, that loss was felt to the depths of Elisa’s being and it stopped her in her tracks, freezing her momentum. This show is a step toward getting her life force back, coming back into her own, and becoming who she can be. Who she can be is spectacular.
With a 12-song set list from the likes of Miranda, Sondheim, Schwartz, and Lozano, featured support from five of her friends, and a dynamite band under the direction of Drew Wutke, Elisa showed everyone there that she has the stamina and the pipes to really grow into a chanteuse to be heralded. Her rendition of “Everything’s Coming Up Roses” from Gypsy was striking in that it was personal, coming from what she’s been through in her life, and supported by a voice endowed with range and a deep capability of inflection of meaning coming from her core. When she touched on “There’s Gotta Be Something Better Than This” from Sweet Charity, she came at it from a totally different take than you probably have heard it before from Ms. Verdon or Ms. MacLaine, lifting it into another realm. When a singer doesn’t just sing a song, but endows it with self, that’s where the magic happens.
I look forward to the becoming of Elisa Galindez.
With friends: Shadia Fairuz, Angel Lozada, Grace McCarney, Alexis Richelle, and Marilyn Vigil-Harris
Band: Curtis Holt Grefe (reeds and flute), Gypsy (guitar), Dave D’Ranjo (bass), and Arei Sekiguchi (drums).
As always, this is just one person’s opinion in a world filled with them.